The top graduates from the Cal State San Bernardino College of Social and Behavioral Sciences are both from the psychology department, and both say they want to give back to the community through their careers.
Diana Robinson, master of arts in psychology, is the Outstanding Graduate, and Janhavi M. Dhargalkar, bachelor of arts in psychology with an emphasis in biological psychology, is the Outstanding Undergraduate student.
They will be honored along with the rest of the college’s Class of 2017 beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 17, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Parking at Citizens Business Bank Arena will be $5 in lots A, B, C and D. Patrons are encouraged to bring exact change.
Robinson, a Fontana resident, will enter the clinical psychology doctoral program at Northern Illinois University in August. After earning her Ph.D., she plans to pursue a career as a psychology professor, a contributor to scholarly research, and as a clinician serving trauma-impacted populations.
“I view human thought and behavior as a captivating puzzle with countless outcomes,” she said. “Psychology has allowed me to explore this puzzle while developing skills and tools to better understand the puzzle that I have always found fascinating.”
Robinson said she is “most inspired by anyone who manages to keep moving forward when facing impossible odds.”
And her own life experiences have spurred her on, as well as people who have overcome seemingly impossible odds. “My hardships are of a personal nature, but have shaped me into the scholar and researcher I am today,” Robinson said. “My hardships have filled me with the passion to help others and to seek answers to complex questions.”
As a graduate student, Robinson’s research interests focused on interpersonal violence, trauma and resiliency. “Specifically, my interests include identifying and understanding cognitive and behavioral factors that contribute to intimate partner violence and sexual assault, as well as the psychosocial factors that lead to the positive and/or negative trajectory of recovery from such traumas,” she said.
Under the supervision of Christina Hassija, associate professor of psychology, Robinson has worked on several independent projects that focused on intimate partner violence perpetrators and victims among college students. With supervision from Manijeh Badiee, assistant professor of psychology, she has collaborated on several research efforts, including a project that focused on sexual assault prevention education for college campuses.
Robinson is most proud of being accepted to the clinical psychology doctoral program. “I did not plan to get a Ph.D. when I began my college career, and I certainly did not think it was going to be possible once I decided I wanted to pursue my doctorate,” she said. “This accomplishment is huge because I will be the first member of my family to earn a doctoral degree.”
Dhargalkar, an international student from Mumbai, India, will start medical school at the Chicago Medical School at Roslind Franklin University in the fall. She plans to become a primary care physician, and would like to return to the Inland Empire to establish her practice.
“My parents are both practicing physicians in Mumbai, India,” she said. “They work at healthcare clinics in urban, underserved areas in the densely populated city of Mumbai. Thus, my goal was to give back to the community in a field that I was passionate about. “With medicine, I can do just that,” said Dhargalkar, who also minored in biology. “My parents work had been a driving force for my ambition.”
Coming from India after graduating from high school was challenging, she said. Initially, it was difficult to get involved in campus life and also adjust to her new environment. Then, “I met a diverse group of student, faculty, and staff, some of whom I am proud to call my second family. They helped me get past my preconceived notions about settling in a new country. And, after five years, I am happy to say that, as a permanent resident now, I have truly made it my home.”
As an undergraduate, she volunteered in research projects being performed in psychology professor Cynthia Crawford’s lab. There she developed an interest in drug abuse-related research. For the last two years, she has been a scholar as part of a National Institutes of Health grant that supports diversity-promoting institutions in drug abuse research. “My research tries to better understand how antidepressant use affects neurochemical levels after different exposure periods,” Dhargalkar said. “We are hoping to find a cause for the lack of efficacy of certain antidepressants in adolescents, thus we use adolescent aged rats as a model.”
Earlier in 2017, she placed first in the social and behavioral sciences category at the annual California State University Research Competition at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, presenting her year-long honors thesis in psychology. One year before, she placed second in the same research competition. She said, “Representing CSUSB and finally placing first in statewide research competition is an accomplishment that I am proud of.”
After the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Commencement exercises, the colleges of Arts and Letters and Education will hold their joint ceremony at noon, followed by the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration at 4 p.m. and the College of Natural Sciences at 8 p.m.
All of the ceremonies at Citizens Business Bank Arena will be webcast live on the Creative Media Services webcast page.
For more information about the June 2016 graduations, visit the CSUSB Commencement website, or contact the Office of Special Events and Guest Services at (909) 537-7360.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.
In the photo above, from the left, Diana Robinson, MA in psychology, is the college’s Outstanding Graduate, and Janhavi M. Dhargalkar, BA in psychology-biological psychology, is the Oustanding Undergraduate student.
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